Give Yourself Permission to Live a Life You Love
Theresa Polley
May 1, 2023
February 28, 2024
Year of Self Care

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it may seem impossible to find time to slow down. Not only is it possible—with boundaries firmly in place of course—but it’s also crucial to consider time dedicated to what you need and want as non-negotiable. It is completely valid to give yourself permission to do what you both need AND want—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Life is meant for joy: friendships, time in nature, pets, favorite activities, celebrations, and so much more. When we choose to live by some invisible set of rules of what we can or can’t do, we not only limit ourselves but we lose sight of what’s important. Giving yourself permission is the first step to living a life of joy and fulfillment—as opposed to a life of “shoulds” and “should nots.”

“It’s never too late—in fiction or life—to revise”. ~Nancy Thayer

In order to stop the cycle of never having enough time, you have to commit to giving yourself permission. 

Recognize Rules You’re Putting on Yourself

Have you ever wanted to do something for yourself but felt like you shouldn’t? In order to give yourself permission, you have to start by taking a good look at the rules you’re following—knowingly or unknowingly—in your life today. 

Do you have:

  • Rules that inflict shame or guilt around “traditional norms” that are passed down from generation to generation?
  • Rules that caution how to dress and behave (otherwise risk being blamed if something bad happens) that are ingrained by society? 
  • Rules that demand being a “better” partner, friend, mother, employee, etc. that come from within yourself or your social circles?
  • Rules to be skinnier, have higher cheekbones, and document every moment of life that unwittingly come from social media (even if you know that it’s mostly filters and faking it)?

Take time to consider what rules you have, where they’re coming from, why you have them, and—most importantly—if they’re serving you. More often than not we’re following rules that are outdated, unhealthy, or both. The beauty of life is most things aren’t permanent and you can make change, gradually or suddenly, when you choose to do so.

Accept Who You Are, Where You Are

If you’re going to give yourself permission to live a life you love, you have to acknowledge and accept yourself exactly as you are. Not just with who you are as a woman, but with what you have and where you are at this very moment in your life. I know that this can be hard, especially if you’ve been living by rules that don’t serve you for many years.

Writing and saying affirmations out loud is a powerful way to acknowledge and accept yourself, especially when you’re not feeling comfortable in your skin. Use these affirmations to come up with some of your own, and try to incorporate them into your daily routine.

  • I am [worthy, enough, loved] just as I am.
  • I am allowed to prioritize myself.
  • I am where I am supposed to be in life.
  • I am allowed to experience [joy, laughter, playfulness, pleasure] in my life.

Give Yourself Permission to Do What YOU Want

Now that you’re recognizing rules that no longer serve you, and accepting yourself exactly as you are, you are able to give yourself permission to do what YOU want. Permission to step away from what you feel like you “should'' be doing to enjoy what you could be doing. Permission to let go of those voices in your head from childhood or someone in your life now. Permission to fully step into your authentic self.

Giving yourself permission might look like saying no to:

  • The person, job, or situation that doesn’t feel right to you.
  • Going out when you’d rather stay in.
  • Hustle culture.
  • Social media.
  • Fixing other people's problems.

Giving yourself permission could also be taking what you need when you need it (and not waiting to “earn” it):

  • Rest.
  • A break.
  • A mental health day.
  • Quiet time.
  • Time with friends.
  • Stillness.

Maybe giving yourself permission means you’re ready to defy your expectations or someone else’s by:

  • Dream big.
  • Have dessert.
  • Wear make-up for you and you only.
  • Don’t wear make-up because it's not for you..
  • Wear what makes you feel good/sexy/awesome.
  • Wear what makes you comfortable/cozy.
  • Speak up and say what you think, feel and believe in.

Or perhaps giving yourself permission means you’re going to get uncomfortable and:

  • Put yourself out there.
  • Try something new.
  • Live your life off of social media.
  • Let go of people who don’t respect you or your boundaries.

Giving yourself permission can also look like feeling ALL your feelings:

  • Boredom.
  • Grief.
  • Fear.
  • Excitement.
  • Anger.
  • Disappointment.
  • Joy.

And, without a doubt, giving yourself permission to be okay:

  • Not to have it all figured out.
  • Even if everything feels like it’s not okay.
  • By yourself when you end a relationship or friendship.

Start the Journey to Giving Yourself Permission, Right Now

Going from putting yourself on the back burner to giving yourself permission to honor your wants and needs before everyone else’s is not a simple decision where everything magically falls into place. It is a day-by-day journey of intentionally reminding yourself that you deserve just as much of your love and attention as everyone in your life and everything else on your to-do list. When you begin to prioritize yourself, you’re able to find the life that was meant for you all along. And the joy that goes with it.

Come Back For More

This collection is part of our Year of Self Care Guide. Each month, you'll find a new collection of simple practices that will help you honor, love, forgive and prioritize yourself, week by week.

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

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Theresa Polley

Theresa believes ALL women have the right to live life on their own terms. In 2004, she created Retreat in the Pines to give women a safe space to be their authentic selves without apology while finding the healing and renewal they deserve.

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